Orange is the new black eye in Colorado.
The once-proud-and-prominent Super Bowl champs are humiliated-and-shamed chumps today.
Less than 40 hours after coach Vance Joseph said he would trust Chad Kelly to start for the Broncos, almost nobody in Colorado trusts the quarterback, the coach, the leadership or the team.
Kelly, who has a provocative past off the football field, was arrested early on a serious accusation Tuesday morning.
The 24-year-old Broncos’ backup QB abruptly has regressed from being an impressive passer in practice to being charged with first-degree criminal trespassing.
Kelly may be fortunate he was not shot as an intruder.
Joe Ellis and John Elway must suspend Kelly until investigations are completed by the Englewood Police Department, the Broncos vice president of security and the NFL.
In a bizarre episode that haunts the players’ annual Halloween party at the Gothic Theater on south Broadway, Kelly, according to an official report filed by police officers, was alleged to have entered a private residence nearby on south Lincoln.
How and why Kelly, whose costume was based on the animated “Woody” from the “Toy Story” movies, could and would have gotten into a house 2½ blocks west from the party at 1 a.m. is unknown publicly. And he was arrested later sitting in a Cadillac Escalade close to the Gothic. What was his condition, and why was he reportedly mumbling incoherently?
The Broncos are engulfed in chaos and controversy ... again.
Over a two-decade span, the Denver franchise has been involved in more than 50 incidents affecting players, executives and a son of the Broncos’ owner — ranging from multiple DWI arrests to possession of illegal drugs, physical abuse of women, fighting, gun use and even the murder of a Broncos’ player. One website that records arrests of NFL players placed the Broncos at the top of the list.
If the Kelly mystery wasn’t sufficiently alarming, TMZ, the gossip TV network, erroneously claimed that the Halloween party, organized this year by Von Miller, had a cocaine bent. The party invitation actually stated the event, also attended by patrons not associated with the Broncos, was Western-themed. Two players — Emmanuel Sanders and Brandon Marshall — did wear outfits associated with entertainers and related to cocaine.
In a third straight season of underachievement, and before a critical division game in Kansas City against the Chiefs on Sunday, the Broncos certainly didn’t need a disgraceful distraction and disruption.
The Broncos issued the usual vanilla press release expressing disappointment in the player who was arrested, and the team is “in the process of gathering more information.” The NFL also is scrutinizing the Kelly charge, and Kelly is scheduled to appear at a court hearing Wednesday morning.
Kelly had a troubling history well before the latest occurrence, although he had been squeaky clean in the Denver area since being selected last in the 2017 draft and signed to a four-year contract worth $2.250 million. He is guaranteed $496,000 this season.
Although Joseph called Kelly “his favorite quarterback in the draft” last year, the Ole Miss quarterback had been “disinvited’” from the NFL combine because of legal transgressions.
The league’s “Irrelevant Man” is not any longer.
Kelly was on injured reserved the entire 2017 season as a result of a torn ACL as a senior, and a wrist injury later. He beat out Paxton Lynch as the Broncos’ second quarterback in exhibition play and practices. Just prior to the season, the Broncos signed former Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan to their practice squad. He started one game for the Browns last season.
It has to be assumed that Hogan now will be activated and serve as Case Keenum’s backup, and possible replacement if Keenum is injured or the team struggles in the second half of the season.
Kelly has one NFL regular-season play on his resume. In the Broncos’ game with the Rams, Keenum was slammed near the end of the half, and had to undergo a sideline concussion examination (which he cleared). Kelly was inserted.
Thousands cheered when Kelly ran onto the field because there had been explicit expression that he should be given a chance as a result of the Keenum struggles before the blowout against the Cardinals.
Joseph was asked if he trusted Kelly in case he had to play. “I would hope so. He’s our backup. He won that job fair and square, so if he had to play for us ... you’re playing different anyway. You’re running the ball more, maybe. You’re using more concepts that he’s good at, so we’ll see. It hasn’t happened yet, but if had to play, I would trust Chad to play for us.”
Kelly wasn’t trusted always. Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s nephew transferred from a New York high school to another in Pennsylvania. But he was kicked off the new team for discipline reasons, and returned to a New York academy. At Clemson Kelly was removed for “conduct detrimental to the team.’”
He then attended East Mississippi Community College, which has been termed in a documentary “Last Chance U.” He led the junior college to the national junior college championship, and was signed by Ole Miss.
In 2014 Kelly was charged in connection with a fight after his brother’s high school football game. In 2016 he was arrested for his actions during a bar brawl.
Since joining the Broncos, Kelly has said he has “matured as a man and a player.” Broncos sources said Kelly was under a “zero tolerance” arrangement.
He has gotten close to becoming an NFL starting quarterback.
Ellis — who fired a videographer for taping segments of a 49ers practice in London — and Elway, who gave director of player personnel director Matt Russell a second chance after alcohol and careless driving (hitting a police car) charges and jailing — have to act decisively on the Kelly Matter.
Constant controversy and chaos are unbecoming characterizations, and Chad Kelly, as a quarterback, is a bad face for the Broncos.